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Perfection Versus Good Enough

Leonard Cohen Mural

Being a daydreamer, forever mentally wandering in some direction or other, I recently strolled into  a line from Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem.  “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”.

Wow, I thought, in a single sentence, doesn’t the Great Man say a lot. So inspired, I would like to say little more.

As well as seeing the cracks as an opportunity for change and not as some kind of flaw, with characteristic economy of words, Leonard Cohen gifts us a sublime comment on Perfection versus Good Enough. 

What I think about when I listen to Cohen’s analogy is that we risk living a life of continual disappointment, a life without light, if we are only prepared to accept perfection in ourselves, others and The World.

The pursuit of perfection is a trap. It is a tyrannical, hungry master that is never satisfied. Often sought to elicit external approval and to shore-up self-esteem, perfection is the black hole of the inner world, voraciously sucking in energy but giving nothing in return.

Conversely, the imperfect “cracks” say something about the virtue of Good Enough. It says that allowing the light to fall on our flaws and vulnerabilities enables us to embrace and accept ourselves as whole – accommodating the parts of us that are good and the parts that are…well… a work in progress. In doing so we liberate ourselves from the tyranny of perfection, from the assumption that we can only be accepted, liked, loved and approved of, if we present a perfect version of ourselves to The World.    

Good enough is sustainable and healthy as the freedom of Good Enough allows us to be kinder to ourselves and better at work, at play and in our relationships.   

A great deal has been written on this fascinating and enlightening subject but thankfully we don’t need to read it.  All we need to do is remember one sentence: “there is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”. For me, that’s good enough.

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